|Basil Paneer Tikka, Subz ki Shami and Khusk Khumbi © Nimpipi|
There’s a dearth of good biryanis in Delhi. (Come on, you can hardly call Deez biryani a good biryani!) At least for me. Ok so Nizam’s does a decent one. As does Swagath. Except to heading to a starred hotel, I have very rarely found a biryani that I liked.
What is it that I’m looking for you might ask me? I’m looking for flavourful single-grained rice, chunks of succulent meat and a fragrance so amazing that I have to stop eating just to inhale the aroma – like the Geeli biryani at the Taj or the Awadhi biryani, that you find well, almost nowhere.
|Biryani picture courtesy Dum Affairs|
Or so I thought. Until, last week when I ended up eating a meal at Dum Affairs, at South Extension. The biryani was outstanding. It was. It really was. So fragrant, bursting with flavours, that I was mighty upset that I’d eaten all that much before the meal.
And what a meal it was. It started with a vegetarian kebab sampler – where we got to try four different kebabs – Basil Paneer Tikka (Rs 450), Chatpate Aloo (Rs 425), Dum ke Khusk Khumbi (Rs 425) and Subz ki Shami (Rs 425). The subz ki shami was outstanding. A melt-in-the-mouth pan fried kebab made with split Bengal gram lentils and vegetables for really the star of the platter. Followed closely by the Chatpate Aloo, which were crisp and tangy- quite an unexpected task. The paneer tikka was lovely too – soft, crumbly with plenty of basil basted around it. Except that it was a very large chunk, enough to fill you up a little too quickly. The khumbh or the mushrooms was a little ho-hum. There was a bit too much masala that hit the palate before you actually got any of the khumbh.
|Mahi and dill kebaba, Zard Gilafi kebab and Galouti (right at the back) © Nimpipi|
This was followed by the Non-vegetarian platter – where we got to try three kebabs – the Galouti (Rs 550), Zard Gilafi Murgh (Rs 550) and Mahi and Dill Kebab (Rs 650). The galouti was really lovely. The right amount of spices pounded into mutton made the kebab bursting with flavours and textures. The Zard Gilafi Murgh or the saffron chicken was very nice too – beautiful flavours of saffron really shone through. The mahi or fish kebab was well, not fishy, but for my friends and I, too dilly. But hey, that was just our taste buds, lots of people I know really really like dill.
Next up was the haleem. I love haleem. I love the creamy meaty taste of this unique dish which is made of coarsely ground lamb, chana daal and cream of wheat. But here’s where it was different – this was not the Hyderabdi haleem that I’m used to, this haleem was made Awadhi-style. You’d ask me what that means – I’d have to ask you to eat it and comment. It wasn’t as spicy and had beautiful undertones of saffron that for me stole the show! Served with caramelised onions, juliennes of ginger, lemon and coriander, the Awadhi Haleem (Rs 575) was a total winner for me.
|Josh-E-Nalli © Nimpipi|
Little did I know what was creeping in next. There was the Murgh Qurma (Rs 575) and then the Josh-E-Nalli (Rs 575). The Nalli blew my mind. The lamb jus or the curry was infused with saffron and tasted beautiful on its own. It didn’t sit heavy in the stomach and was really a lovely curry on its own.
All this while my friends and I tried to avoid eating the naans and the rotis and other kinds of flat breads that were put before us. (One even got hand-slapped but that’s another story altogether). And right when we thought we couldn’t eat another morsel – the Biryani was ushered in. So you can imagine, how upset I was, when I realised it tasted really very good.
|Royal Thukda on the dessert platter © Nimpipi|
We ended the meal with a dessert platter that consisted of Royal Tukda (Rs 225), Malai Gulla (Rs 225), Jaggery and Fennel Phirnee (Rs 225) and Date and Pinenut Delight (Rs225). The Royal Tukda was crisp (not soggy) and was quite lovely but my favourite were the phirnees, which worked wonderfully.
But despite the awesome food, there’s a couple of things that Dum Affairs hasn’t got right. For one, you can barely make out where the restaurant is. There is no signage outside (unlike places such as Rang De Basanti Café and Double Decker) and had I not known it was on top of Café Morrison, chances were I’d have been looking for it all over the market.
Thing two, while the interiors are quite minimalistic (which is fine), the ambiance isn’t warm or cozy like I wish it would have been. The lights were too bright, the music really strange (alternating between Pop and Ghazal, is not such a great idea.) There was a starkness to eating the meal which was highlighted by the fact, we guys were the only ones in the restaurant. On the flipside, the live kitchen is a fun idea, it’s always nice to see who’s making your food.
So would I go back to eat again? Yes I would. But this time I’d go armed with boys, who can do justice to the food. And the next time, I crave for some kick-ass biryani or haleem, I know exactly where to go.
Cost for meal for 2: Rs 2,350 plus taxes
Where: E 12, , New Delhi
Time: Lunch Hours – 12.30 p.m.-2.45 p.m.
Dinner Hours – 7.30 p.m - 11.45 p.m.